When hiring for a tech startup, most companies focus, understandably, on technical talent: developers and engineers. Obviously, you need great engineers if you're going to build software, apps or a website of any kind.
But don't underestimate the value that a great writer can bring to your organization. A lot of startups make any writing tasks that come up the responsibility of whichever staff member is the most competent writer. When you're bootstrapping, multitasking is a necessity. But if you've got some funding, hiring an excellent writer can impact your business in a lot of positive ways. So whether you make a full-time hire or find a reliable contractor, it's worth the investment to seek out a writer who understands your business and industry and cares about the outcomes.
Here are five ways that a great writer can contribute to the success of your tech startup.
As a tech startup, your website is probably your most important business asset aside from your intellectual property. It's the face of your brand. And you need at least four talents to put one together:
- A developer
- A designer
- An SEO
- A writer
Lucky you if you can find one person with all four skills! But please don't skimp on the writing talent. Your site needs lots of copy to rank in search, and that copy should all be clear, concise and have a definite voice and personality, all while communicating the value of your offering.
Once you've got a website, the next step is to think about a blog. A blog is a great way to bring in traffic and inbound leads, as well as links that can boost your domain's SEO value. But to maintain a regular publishing schedule and ensure your blog is a positive influence on your brand, you need a skilled writer who actually knows your industry and is familiar with other blogs in your space – so you know they're creating original, valuable content. It's all well and good to say that your founders, executives or engineers will write for the blog, but in reality they are too busy and blogging always gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. (And blogs are pretty useless if you don't update regularly.)
Awesome Content = Lead Gen
Content marketing is a great form of lead generation, but you need someone to create the content. A writer can write and submit guest posts for respected and relevant blogs and contributed articles for industry magazines to raise awareness of your brand. A writer can create white papers, e-books, e-guides and other marketing materials that you can put behind a registration wall to generate leads. This can help you bring in more prospects at the top end of the funnel, people who might not be ready to buy anything but are in an information-seeking stage, and whom you can further nurture via email campaigns (see below).
Another good way to raise your profile is to enter your company for various awards. For example, shortly after I started working here at WordStream, I helped Larry write a submission for the MITX awards, a technology competition local to New England, and we ended up winning a "Promise Award." The submission process for these awards is often heavy on the verbal side, so it's helpful to have a writer on hand to craft your messaging. Awards are a great vote of confidence to bring to investors and to show off on your website as a symbol of trust.
Despite what you've heard/hoped, email isn't dead. Email campaigns are still an effective form of startup marketing – but their effectiveness depends on the quality of the writing. Strong subject lines drive open rates, and strong copy and calls to action drive clicks and conversions. Find a writer who believes in testing and analytics – when it comes to marketing, "good writing" is what works with your audience.
Image credit: "The Letter Writer" by Rita Banerji